An article published in the New York Times shares how genetic genealogy helped to solve a two decade old murder case in Alabama. Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley went missing on the way to a birthday party. Their bodies were discovered shot to death in the trunk of Beasley’s car on July 3, 1999. Evidence of sexual assault at the crime scene led detectives to collect DNA. The Ozark Police Department were able to produce a suspect using the newly emerging investigative technique known as genetic genealogy. Genetic genealogy has helped to solve several cold cases including the Golden State Killer case. The new technique is facing both support for expansion and opposition including laws to ban the practice. To utilize the investigative technique, a genetic profile is uploaded to GEDMatch, a genealogy database, and then a team of genetic genealogists look for a close match. Investigators hope for something in the third cousin range when looking for possible matched. In the case in Alabama, the results were much more distant than third cousin, but provided some last names of possible suspects. Detectives were able to make a connection because of the surnames provided by investigators.
|The victims of the crime: J.B. Beasley (left) and Tracie Hawlett (right).|
I found this article to be interesting because it details how a new investigative technique is helping to solve cases from decades ago. It is remarkable how technology advancements have helped the criminal justice community solve cold cases. It is possible that without the development of this new technique many cases would go unsolved and that many families would still be looking for answers.